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B&W Expands AirPlay Speaker Lineup

North Reading, Mass. — Hi-fi supplier Bowers & Wilkins is expanding its selection of AirPlay-equipped speakers with the launch of two models, which are also its first two digital media speakers with Apple’s eight-pin Lightning connector.

Both new models are equipped with Wi-Fi, AirPlay and the Lightning connector, which enables docking with the iPhone 5, fifth-generation iPod Touch and seventh-generation iPod Nano. Neither model is physically designed to dock with the iPad Mini, which also features Lightning connector.

One of the company’s two new AirPlay speakers, the zeppelin-shaped Zeppelin Air LCM, will ship in May at $599, joining the current $599 Zeppelin Air with AirPlay and Apple’s 30-pin dock connector.

The second new speaker is the $399 Z2, which ships in April in black and in June in white.

The two models join the $799 A7 and $499 A5, both of which are AirPlay speakers without dock connector. They shipped late last year. The company discontinued its $299 Zeppelin Mini, an iPod/iPhone-docking speaker with 30-pin connector but without AirPlay.

 Like the current Zeppelin Air, the Zeppelin Air LCM is a DSP-equipped 2.1-channel three-way speaker with five drivers, each driven by an individual amplifier to deliver a frequency response of 51Hz to 35kHz (+/-3dB). The amps are rated at 4×25 watts plus 1×50 watts. The speaker features two 1-inch Nautilus-tube aluminum tweeters, two 3-inch midranges and a 5-inch subwoofer. The speaker also features 24-bit/96kHz DACs, USB port to stream music from a PC or Mac, and composite-video output.

The Z2 is more compact and features a subtly curved metal grille, two 3.5-inch full-range drivers, DSP and 2×20-watt Class D amplifier.

AirPlay-enabled speakers stream music from Wi-Fi-equipped iPads, iPods and iPhones, whether the music is stored on the device or streamed via the Internet. Music can be streamed from an Apple mobile device to one AirPlay speaker at a time.

 AirPlay also enables the speakers to stream protected and unprotected songs via Wi-Fi or Ethernet from a PC’s iTunes application. PC-stored music can be streamed to multiple AirPlay speakers at a time throughout the house.

The Lightning connector charges the docked Apple devices and streams their music in digital PCM form for playback through the speakers.